Pretty pictures and pretty terrible bass fishing: That’s the deal with a common fall occurrence with a pleasant name belying a profoundly unpleasant truth.
“Bluebird” days, which occur after a cold front passes, take their name from the ultra-clear blue skies and super bright sunshine. High pressure sets in, colors pop, the air is crisp and fresh, and there’s no wind. Sounds beautiful, right?
Well, if you’re leading a hiking tour, or an outdoor photography class, then yeah, it’s pretty sweet. If you’re trying to catch bass? Mmm, not so much.
Bluebird days don’t necessarily mean that bass don’t want to eat. Last time I checked, fall comes right before winter and the days of abundant food are soon to dwindle. Therefore, every critter with fins, feathers, or fur on its back knows this is the season to pack on the weight.
However, as Texas guide Stephen Johnston explains, it’s simply a matter of comfort. Bass, particularly those finicky largemouth, are easily offended by weather changes. But anglers who understand the fish’s needs can easily adjust their tactics to accommodate the pouting, yet still hungry fish.
“The first thing you do as a fisherman once that sun gets up is you put your sunglasses on,” Johnston notes. “Fish can’t do that. They don’t have eyelids or anything to protect their eyes, so on those high-pressure, bluebird days, they’re going to go down and get up against something to block that glare of the sun.”
Bass will use any shadow to break the intense glare of a relentless sun, including stumps, rocks, docks, water hyacinths, lily pads, and big laydowns. Now, bass use these same habitats beyond bluebird days, but as Johnston explains, the day-to-day difference is proximity.
“Those fish don’t roam around on those high-pressure days,” he said. “On a normal feeding day, you might have a fish that roams within a 20- to 30-yard area around that cover to feed. Well, on those bluebird days, he’s going to back right up against that stump where he’s shaded and that glare isn’t in his eyes.”
Anglers should take away two relevant points: Slow down and keep it close.
Johnston advises patient and persistent presentations with jigs or Texas-rigged worms or creature baits, along with repetitive passes from Carolina-rigged plastics or squarebill crankbaits.
With the latter, make sure you’re bumping cover, and if a spot looks good, give it a bunch of casts from different angles. Often, that pouting fish won’t move a foot to get a bait, but if it drops, drags, or bumps right past its nose, that’s an easy sell.